When she was growing up, the Rev. Kate Braestrup lived all over the world because her father was a foreign correspondent for the New York Times. Later he wrote for the Washington Post, and the family lived in the D.C. area. Summers were spent in Maine, so it was “always a stable point” in her life. Back then, she was “very outdoorsy” and loved to spend time in the woods.

Her first husband, Drew Griffith, was on the District of Columbia police force, and after the couple’s first child was born he wanted to find a law enforcement agency that was “progressive and had no corruption,” she said, which is how he ended up joining the Maine State Police. The couple moved to Maine in 1986.

Although she didn’t grow up in a religious family, Braestrup said, “I think I’ve always been religious.” Faith was also important to Griffith, and the couple ended up attending the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockland, where she said she found a spiritual home. Griffith was killed in the line of duty in 1996; at that time, he was planning to attend Bangor Theological Seminary. Instead, it was Braestrup who went, and was ordained a Unitarian Universalist minister in 2004.

She downplayed the idea that she was fulfilling her husband’s dream, but said the fact that he had already gathered the necessary information made it easier for her to apply.

For her, spirituality is the experience of the divine, an expanded awareness; religion is what one does with one’s spirituality. The important question, she said, is “does what you do help you to be more loving?”

Braestrup said her relationship with Griffith taught her about the centrality of love. When she learned of her husband’s death, she said, there was a moment when she realized that her love for him would extend to everyone around her. When she went to seminary she expected to become a state police chaplain, but in 2001 Lt. Bill Allen of the Maine Warden Service called and asked her to become the MWS chaplain.

She said she likes the work because of the variety of tasks and the different people she interacts with. Braestrup provides pastoral care to the families of people who are lost or injured in the wild, goes on most death notifications and follows up with the wardens after a traumatic event. She also leads critical incident debriefings, teaches death notification at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, and plays a ceremonial role at promotions and other occasions.

Describing Maine’s wardens as “an interesting bunch … eccentric,” she said because most of their encounters with the public are positive, they tend to be more open to people and less cynical than most police officers. She also enjoys working with a group of people who all share her love of the outdoors.

In fact, it was after she started working with the wardens that Braestrup remembered a traumatic experience from her childhood that explained why she had been afraid to go into the woods. Being there with the armed wardens allowed her to feel safe again, she said, and now she no longer needs that protection.

She admires what she called the wardens’ “practical compassion.” With their willingness to risk their own lives for others and their nonjudgmental offering of help to anyone who needs it, Braestrup believes wardens and other law enforcement officers enact the love of God in their daily work.

“I get to see people at their best,” she said, “and I include the families. They are so brave and so open to generosity at times when you’d think they could only feel their fear.”

She confessed that when she is called on to pray at ceremonial occasions, it feels “self-indulgent,” because it gives her a chance to tell the men and women of the warden service how much she loves them.

In addition to her work with the wardens, Braestrup has written two books, “Here If You Need Me,” and the recently released “Marriage and Other Acts of Charity.”